Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall Season TV Review: Sleepy Hollow

I really didn't have high expectations for Sleepy Hollow. For one thing, every time I saw a synopsis of it I thought, haven't we done this before?

It wasn't even just that it was a story about Sleepy Hollow, there's a ton of those already, but that everybody kept talking about it being a mix of a period piece and a modern police drama but not explaining HOW. I'm going to go ahead and call that bad marketing. That is not remotely a good description of the show, as it turns out.

Basically, Ichabod Crane actually is the man who beheads a horseman, and then the both of them are buried and come back to life in modern day America. Of course, now he has to deal with 2,000 years of culture shock AND a headless horseman.

It's got a few parts fish out of water, a couple parts vast apocalyptic backstory, put in a dash of conspiracy theories, a couple cups of buddy cop comedy, and at least one helping of "main characters who don't follow orders" drama. And it's predictable as all get out, because it doesn't just follow one formula, it follows them ALL.

And I really liked it.

Every time a character showed up you could peg almost everything that was going to happen to them before the end of the episode. The only surprise was when Abbie (the female lead) reveals her "tragic backstory that connects her to the main storyline and also reveals that something has been up with her all along and her mentor knew it but kept it from her" in the first episode.

There was a brief moment of playing "dead or bad guy" with one character, but it would be spoilers to explain to you how that worked out. But the thing was, I didn't care that I knew everything that was going to happen and could practically quote the show before the characters actually said their lines. Between the actors and the directing (and some seriously good art design) I just wanted to go along for the ride anyway.

Abbie is fantastic, she's easily one of my favorite characters on TV in a long time. She's having none of anybody's crap, and somehow the Nicole Beharie doesn't make that a stereotype. Ichabod is snarky and amusing, and he could come off really insufferable in the hands of a different actor, but Tom Mison makes it work. I cringed when the conversation between the two inevitably turned to slavery, expecting such a cliche and some really overly sappy remarks. Instead they both traded some sarcasm and Abbie threatened to shoot him, and he basically shrugged and said "alright, stranger things have happened today."

I didn't even get that obnoxious anachronistic feeling of "too enlightened for his time" that period romance novels tend to fall into so that you can like the main character even though traditionally they'd believe some things we now view as horrible. I'm sure history majors are clutching their remotes and flinging things at the screen, no doubt, but I could let it go.

I was also quite wary because Kurtzman and Orci have had some pretty big missteps when it comes to movies lately (don't get me started) and their welcome was wearing a little thin. But maybe tv is their natural home, because I'm sold on it and I'll definitely be watching.